The IAPL expresses solidarity with lawyers and legal workers around the world on the Fifth “Day of the Endangered Lawyer”, Friday, January 23, 2015. The date has been celebrated since 2010. The international focus this year is on the Philippines and IAPL has deep concern for our colleagues in the Philippines who have experienced the loss of more than 100 fighters of legal profession since 1998.
Attacks on lawyers, fatal and otherwise, occur across the world in all types of countries. They are increasing in frequency. More than 1000 lawyers and legal workers have been killed or disappeared in the past several decades.
Many of these lawyers were courageous human rights defenders who accepted the risks involved. But that risk should not include impunity for the perpetrators. Unfortunately, many governments appear reluctant to investigate and bring to justice the suspected assassins. In many cases, it seems that reluctance to pursue the guilty stems from the involvement of the military, police or private interests aligned with the government.
The exercise of the legal profession is protected under national and international legislation, because it is a premise of the right of defense in the rule of law. Moreover, lawyers involved in human rights cases are protected under the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by Resolution 53/144 of UN General Assembly in 1999.
IAPL, as an international federation of people’s lawyers associations founded in 2000 with a concern to respond to state repression in countries where exploitation is most severe, human rights violations are most widespread and the peoples’ struggles are most intense, has had a major concern to protect lawyers and legal workers from being hindered in the exercise of their profession.
State repression practices and attacks on lawyers occur all over the world, especially because the imperialist system resorts to these practices as the only solution to repress dissent and ensure the interests of those in power economically and politically.
IAPL supports the initiatives and organizations engaged in protecting lawyers. We denounce the attacks on the exercise of the legal profession, and have formed a committee to monitor cases and to develop strategies for supporting the exercise of legal profession and reducing the risks for lawyers.
IAPL greets the initiative of European Democratic Lawyers (AED-EDL), European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and World Human Rights (ELDH) and European Bar Human Rights Institute (IDHAE) in promoting key activities in this Day of Endangered Lawyer, and urges other professional lawyers associations to bring pressure on their governments to protect lawyers, to strongly condemn such attacks, and to ensure that each case is properly investigated and the alleged perpetrators brought to justice.
Impunity must end. Defend the defenders of peoples’ rights!
IAPL Monitoring Committee on Attacks on Lawyers
Julio Moreira, Latin America, firstname.lastname@example.org
Stuart Russell, North America and Europe, email@example.com
Gill H. Boehringer, Asia Pacific, firstname.lastname@example.org
Kristian Boehringer, Australia and New Zealand, email@example.com